Cover photo for Keith James Dreher's Obituary
Keith James Dreher Profile Photo
1941 Keith 2022

Keith James Dreher

October 25, 1941 — October 4, 2022

Keith James Dreher (K.J.) passed into heaven October 4, 2022, at Mary Lanning Hospital with his family present. Funeral service will be 10:30 AM Friday, October 14, 2022, at Apfel Funeral Home in Hastings with Chaplain John Mueller officiating. Burial with military honors will follow in Parkview Cemetery. Lunch will follow the burial at Apfel Funeral Home. Visitation will be from 5-7 PM Thursday, October 13, at Apfel Funeral Home. Memorials are suggested to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital and the ASPCA. Online condolences may directed to Cards can be sent to P.O. Box 1405, Hastings, NE 68902.

Keith was born on October 25, 1941, in Hastings to Steve and Lola Mae (James) Dreher. He attended Hastings High school until he was seventeen when he joined the Navy in the middle of his junior year.

He enlisted on January 27, 1959 and was in boot camp for 5 months in San Diego. In May 1959 he attended swimming school for one year in Alameda, CA. In July 1960 he transferred to Jacksonville, FL for electrical school for nine months. Keith then went to Sanford, FL for two years of airplane squadron training. During this time, he was in Newfoundland, Canada as an air crew man and Monte Rio, CA for Vietnamese language school. He deployed to Vietnam for two tours in 1965 and 1966. His major duties were as a Navy frogman and a military advisor to the South Vietnamese military. In 1966 he also returned to Jacksonville for advanced electrical school for nine months. In February 1967 he was an air crew man at Patuxent River, MD for one and a half years. From 1968 to 1973 he was stationed in Naples, Italy as an air crew man and worked on airplanes. During this time, he also taught himself how to fly planes. When flying country to country, pilots would take a break and allow him to fly in their stead. In 1973 he transferred to Norfolk, VA and was stationed on the U.S.S. Guadalcanal where he was on a helicopter crew. In 1976 after attending Italian language school for nine months he transferred to Contorea, Sicily. He served as a military advisor for the Italian Navy for two years. In 1978 he began as a Navy recruiter in Sioux City, IA. From 1979 to 1982 he served as a recruiting officer in Grand Island, and Hastings.

In 1982 he transferred to Misawa, Japan where he was on a flight crew for four years. During his time in Japan, he attended night school and graduated from the University of Maryland in 1986. In 1986 he went to Barking Sands Naval Base in Kawai, HI where he was promoted to E9 Command Master Chief for three years. He left Hawaii in 1989 and on his flight back he shared seats with actor George Peppard. He considered this a real pleasure.

During this time, the Navy asked him to go to Beechcraft in Wichita, KS for Russian language school so he could go to Russia. He had to decline at this time due to family issues. He was sent to Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland where he was a Command Master Chief E9 on a squadron flight crew serving for an admiral. Keith eventually retired from the Navy in October 1991.

After his Navy days Keith worked in Hastings at the U.S. Postal service until 2006 when he had to retire due to health issues. He also worked for Butler-Volland Funeral home.

Keith enjoyed hunting and shooting in his spare time. He won a skeet shooting competition in the Pacific North Fleet while serving. Keith also enjoyed swimming, watching football and basketball, spending time with his family, and building things. He was Quarter Master with the VFW for 19 years and a lifetime member as well as manager for one and half years. He was also a member of the DAV Club, American Legion, Elks Club, and NRA.

After a long relationship, he married Gail Tolle in Branson, MO at the Methodist church on December 13, 2006. They surprised the family with a video of the ceremony on Christmas Eve.

Keith was a person of high intelligence, high standards and morals. He was always ready to help anyone who needed it. He loved animals, especially his dog Lucy and his cat Cuna.

Survivors include his wife, Gail; daughter, Kelly (Steve) Holmes of Council Bluffs, IA; son, Brian Dreher of El Cajon, CA; step daughters: Terri Dreher of Hastings, Stephanie (friend Randy) Wadman of Hastings, Chanda (Stan) Essink of Fairfield, NE; eight grandchildren; six great grandchildren; brother, Kent (Jane) Dreher of Redlands, CA; brother-in-law, Jim D. Tolle of Hastings, and many nieces and nephews.

He was preceded in death by his parents Steve and Lola, and brother Lyle Dreher.

Keith was admired by his wife, family, friends, and comrades. He had a close relationship with his brother-in-law, Jim Tolle and his special angel, Karen Hissong of Deshler.

May you rest peacefully in Heaven with no more pain, your loving soul mate - Gail

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Keith James Dreher, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services


Thursday, October 13, 2022

5:00 - 7:00 pm (Central time)

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funeral services

Friday, October 14, 2022

Starts at 10:30 am (Central time)

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